adventures, books & creative lifestyle.

Book Haul feat. Yeonmi Park

vivatramp book blog uk book haul

October was a glorious month for me book-buying wise because some kindhearted people gave me a little bit of money to celebrate my graduation. 'But Bee, why didn't you save that money for something important?' - well, dear reader, the answer is, and always will be, yolo. If you have bought or read any of these books, do discuss them with me in the comments. Please, pals, humour me and let me talk about books even more than I already do.


vivatramp the dumb house john burnside

the dumb house by john burnside 
In Persian myth, it is said that Akbar the Great once built a palace which he filled with newborn children, attended only by mutes, in order to learn whether language is innate or acquired. As the year passed and the children grew into their silent and difficult world, this palace became known as the Gang Mahal, or Dumb House. In his first novel, John Burnside explores the possibilities inherent in a modern-day repetition of Akbar's investigations. Following the death of his mother, the unnamed narrator creates a twisted variant of the Dumb House, finally using his own children as subjects in a bizarre experiment. When the children develop a musical language of their own, however, their gaoler is the one who is excluded, and he extracts an appalling revenge. 

I decided to give in to the hype and see if I, too, could be #Burnsided. For those totally out of the loop, Vintage recently released a set of Scottish classics that included Burnside's 1997 novel The Dumb House. Jen Campbell read it and loved it, everyone else on Booktube read it and loved it, the hashtag #Burnsided was born, and so I bought it. I read this the other week and wasn't as enamored by it, giving it three stars, but there will be more on that in my miniature book reviews post next month! I'm definitely wanting to pick up some of the other books in the series, since Scotland is a huge part of my heritage. 

vivatramp annihilation jeff vandermeer uk book blog

annihilation by jeff vandermeer
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades [...] The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire [...] the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves [...] This is the twelfth expedition. Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X  delivers [...] but it's the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything. 

I saw Kara, from Books are my Bag, haul this series on Twitter a while back and the covers alone made me want to find out more. Annihilation instantly found its way onto my Goodreads 'to buy' list once I realised it was post-apocalyptic fiction. I am a huge sucker for the genre and I just cannot help myself. This book is quite short so it shouldn't take me too long to finish once I set my mind to it. 

vivatramp california edan lepucki

california by edan lepucki
The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can't reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one another. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt [...] Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realise this community poses its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust. 

As some of you may know, I have been writing a polyvocal post-apocalyptic collection of prose and poetry entitled And So, We All Float On. I initially wrote it for my creative dissertation, as part of my English with Creative Writing BA, and earned myself a first. Huzzah! However, I have since decided to expand the project and see where things end up. As I have already said, I adore the post-apocalyptic genre. I have always found it fascinating. Around a year ago, I wrote a long choral poem for my collection about a man who, following the end of the world, uses his position to essentially create his own cult (I am also, rather weirdly, interested in cults) and so I wanted to find some similar reads for research. This book came up during that search. I hadn't heard anyone talk about this book so I went into it completely blind, which felt like a bit of a novelty, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

secondhand buys

vivatramp book blog the man in the high castle philip k dick

the man in the high castle by philip k. dick 
It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost the war  - and now is occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. 

I'm on a bit of a science fiction / dystopian kick at the moment so I thought I'd turn to one of the most prolific writers of the genre, Philip K. Dick, for another book to read. Lets just take a couple of minutes to appreciate that Penguin Essentials cover...I'm two chapters down and I have to say I am a little worried that this will be a little too dense or too high sci-fi for me to comprehend but I'm determined to carry on. Luke really wants to watch the television series so I need to read this as soon as possible.

vivatramp lifestyle blog

special topics in calamity physics 
At the centre of Special Topics in Calamity Physics is clever, deadpan Blue Van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge, but she could use some friends. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway School, she finds some -- a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a byzantine murder mystery. 

This has been on my radar, quietly, for years and years now so I decided to pick up a secondhand copy of this gorgeous edition whilst I could still find it. First order of business: remove that horrible sticker. This is a hefty read for me, as I usually read much shorter books, but I'm intrigued to find out more. I may save this for early next year. We'll see!  

vivatramp station eleven emily st john mandel book haul lifestyle blogs uk

station eleven by emily st. john mandel
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlement of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Travelling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band's existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed. 

My word Bee, like buying post-apocalyptic fiction much? Station Eleven had been sat on my wishlist since its release but The UK cover was totally not my aesthetic so I waited around to pick up a paperback of the American edition. I am a sucker for stars. The group in this novel remind me of the 'Floating Brigade' in my collection.

vivatramp harvest jim crace book haul lifestyle blog book blog

harvest by jim crace 
As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat. A trio of outsiders - two men and a dangerously magnetic woman - arrives on the woodland borders and puts up a make-shift camp. That same night, the local manor house is set on fire. Over the course of seven days, Walter Thirsk sees his hamlet unmade: the harvest blackened by smoke and fear, the new arrivals cruelly punished, and his neighbours held captive on suspicion of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it...

I remembered Mercedes discussing this book a couple of years back when it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize so I thought I'd pick it up out of interest. It's a piece of historical fiction, so it's not my usual bag, but I think it's nice to have some slower reads on your shelf for when you aren't wanting to read something too taxing.  

vivatramp the handmaids tale margaret atwood book haul

the handmaid's tale by margaret atwood  
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. 

I have been waiting to stumble across a cheap secondhand copy of The Handmaid's Tale for years and years and my prayers were finally answered when I spotted this interesting edition for £1 in my local hospice charity shop. I really enjoy Atwood's writing and many people hail this as her best work so I'm definitely going to attempt to get round to it before the year is out. 

bookish mail

Steph at Penguin sent me a couple of books to let me know that she wasn't eaten by a spider in the night. Long story but, basically, everyone should send me books to let me know that they're okay. I also received a package of Gothic delights from Vintage.

vivatramp girl boss lifestyle blog uk

#girlboss by sophia amoruso*
At seventeen, Sophie Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary - and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.  

This book was all over the blogosophere a while back and yet I know next to nothing about #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso or Nasty Gal. I don't tend to read books such as this but I'm probably at an age where I should start getting my shit together. #GIRLBOSS will help me do that, right?!

vivatramp in order to live yeonmi park book blog book haul

in order to live by yeonmi park*
Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before had she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape. In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea - and to freedom.

I cannot wait to read this book. From the interviews I have seen, Yeonmi seems like such a beautiful and powerful woman.  I don't read anywhere near as much non-fiction as I should do, particularly when the stories are as incredible as this. This will, probably, be quite an emotional read but it's one that I'm hoping to get to sooner rather than later.  

vivatramp wuthering heights vintage classics bronte series

wuthering heights by emily bronte*
Wuthering Heights is the tale of two families both joined and riven by love and hate. Cathy is a beautiful and wilful young woman torn between her soft-hearted husband and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one of them dead and cast a shadow over the lives of their children. 

To celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë's birth next year, Vintage are publishing three of the Brontë sister's works with these beautiful covers illustrated by British landscape artist Sarah Gillespie. They're absolutely stunning and beautifully produced - we're talking french flaps and fancy paper, pals - and they're being released on November 5th so keep an eye out for them. They'd make perfect gifts for the bookish goffs in your life.

I haven't read Wuthering Heights and I'm starting to wonder whether it's because I seem to be incapable of mentioning the title without singing Kate Bush. I wish I was joking but I think it might be an illness. God, I love Kate Bush. I'm definitely going to read this during the winter whilst tucked up in my blanket  by my windo-oooow. I'm so sorry.

vivatramp jane eyre charlotte bronte uk top lifestyle blogs
jane eyre by charlotte bronte*
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. 

I'm really happy to be replacing my worn Penguin Classics edition with this beauty! I read this book a few years ago for university and I really enjoyed it. A lot of people are terrified by classics, understandably so, but I'd say this is a really great place to start if you're a little scared by them. It's dark. It's brooding. It's basically everything you want from a Gothic novel. 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead.


*These books were sent to me for review purposes.


  1. I have bought not a single book this month so I'm definitely living vicariously through you! I am adding books to my wishlist at quite a rate, though, and there are definitely a few more to add now - I love the sound of Annihilation and The Man In The High Castle.

    Jess xo

  2. I am in love with your selection ! :)

    happy reading !!

  3. I saw Yeonmi Park speak at Stylist Live and her book went straight on my Christmas list. I love the Handmaid's Tale - it's one of those books that I still think about every now and then - I love that vintage cover! x

  4. I've been interested in reading #GIRLBOSS for a while now, despite being in the same position that I don't know anything about the company or Amoruso! I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on it! :)

  5. I recently read that Margaret Atwood book and loved it! Some of the best of hers I've read so far

    Mel ♥

  6. OOh California sounds right up my street! amazon wishlisted! :) x

  7. Ooh those Bronte covers are gorgeous. I could easily have a dozen copies of my fave books with all of the various beautiful editions that are available.

  8. I read Annihilation a week or so ago and I am eager to pick up the rest of the series now. It was refreshingly unique and creepy; I really don't think I've read anything like it. Definitely left me sitting upright in bed for a while... :|

    Megan /


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